Critical Concepts in Art History: For Students, By Students was conceived, researched and written by art history majors at Wheaton College for Professor Ellen McBreen’s Art History Today: A Critical Assessment (Spring 2015). This senior seminar project had several goals: to create an accessible resource for fellow students in art history and visual studies, to critically assess the key concepts of our evolving discipline, and to gain professional experience with digital publishing in a collaborative project.

We hope that Critical Concepts will inspire your research, writing, and thinking about the arts.

BetsBetsyy Balch, 
Executive Editor
Author: Iconography, Appropriation, Avant-Garde
Hanover, New Hampshire

Art has always been my passion. Exploring it as an art history major has allowed me to grow intellectually. Critical Concepts in Art History was a significant capstone to my art history major, as it required me to use the research, writing, editing, and critical thinking skills that I have learned at Wheaton. My position as Executive Editor taught me the organizational and communication skills needed to oversee a large collaborative project. I am proud that our senior seminar has taken on this experiential learning, and I hope our publication resonates with other students, both within and outside of the discipline.


Sophia BSophiaoullier
Speaker Workshop Series Coordinator
Author: Gender, Postcolonialism, Biography
Paris, France

As an art history major with a business and management minor, my personal interests were deeply satisfied through this project, since we all worked as a team to further their understanding of fundamental concepts in art history. My close collaboration with the Head of Marketing and Promotion and Head of Communications made me understand the key roles played by effective communication in the success of our seminar events and projects. I hope that Critical Concepts will aid students to grasp concepts essential to their own academic pursuits.

RufuRufuss Jiaan Chen
Head of Communications
Author: Connoisseurship, Commodity, Style
Dongguan, China

As an art history major with a focus on East Asian art and culture, I used Western critical concepts from the discipline to analyze Chinese art from a different perspective. My goal was to make complex theories accessible to undergraduate students. I was also able to develop and improve my communication and marketing skills through this project.


JasmineJasmine Clarke
Image Coordinator
Author: Gaze, Ideology, Queer Theory
Boston, Massachusetts

As an art history major and education minor, working on the Critical Concepts in Art History project was a rewarding experience for someone who plans to be an educator. I hope this project will serve not only undergraduate students in their understanding of these fundamental concepts, but anyone who has an interest in art and art history.


Julia DryJulia Dry
Head of Marketing and Promotion
Author: Greenbergian Formalism, Postmodernism, Canon
Jakarta, Indonesia

As an art history major and environmental studies minor, I plan to continue developing my career in the art auction world. For this, it will be crucial to have a strong basis of art historical knowledge and an ability to discuss concepts, styles, and controversies. I hope that Critical Concepts in Art History will be helpful for beginning students to build their foundation of knowledge. As Head of Marketing and Promotion for the project, I discovered the various tools one can use to share information effectively and how this can be useful in art education.


SarahSarah M. Estrela
Executive Editor
Author: Modernist Primitivism, Other/Otherness, Authenticity
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Art history, to me, uncovers peoples’ knowledge about themselves, other people, and their environment, via close visual analysis and rigorous research. This was the ideal avenue for me to explore my passion, not only for the visual arts, but also for helping people understand the different ways in which their identities have been constructed visually. During my undergraduate career at Wheaton, I have been most interested in learning about how racial identity is perceived, visually constructed, and discussed. Collaborating on Critical Concepts in Art History has been extremely rewarding. I sincerely hope that it helps readers get to the heart of the discipline’s key theories and concepts, and equips them with the knowledge necessary to empower others in the future.


LinsayLindsay Koso
Copy Editor
Author: Intention, Simulacrum, Reception Theory
Lexington, Massachusetts

As an aspiring art conservator, I am especially drawn to material culture and art history as a means of preserving the human experience. It is my belief that nothing is more telling of human nature than the objects humans are drawn to create, and this is why I am driven to interact with and conserve material culture. Through Critical Concepts in Art History I was able to explore the core theories that drive the field of art history and motivate me to study material culture.


AbbeyAbigail Matses
Web Team
Author: Spectacle, Absolutism, Phenomenology
Boxford, Massachusetts

As a double major in art history and studio art with a concentration in graphic design, Critical Concepts in Art History brought together my two areas of academic focus. As a member of the web team, I created our publication logo and designed our lecture series poster. Learning to use WordPress has added to my skill set as a digital designer, and increased my knowledge and flexibility with digital publications.


LenaLena Sawyer
Research Liaison and Bibliography
Author: Mimesis, Performance, Intermedia
Providence, Rhode Island

I used this Critical Concepts project as an opportunity to further explore the connections between art history and my interests in the visual and performing arts as a form of social activism. I hope that the publication will give students a foundation to begin thinking about visual culture in a multi-faceted and informed way and that it will serve as a catalyst for readers to reconsider the ways in which they read art.


Julia S.Julia Schirrmeister
Photography Editor
Author: Fetishism, Faktura, Taxonomy
New York, New York

As a double major in art history and studio art with a concentration in printmaking, I hope that Critical Concepts in Art History will help students to understand these concepts through concrete examples of works of art.  My position as Photography Editor with the web team gave me the opportunity to increase my skills and knowledge of Photoshop and WordPress.


EricEric Solomon
Web Team
Author: Feminism, Epistemology, Hegemony
Westfield, New Jersey

As a double major in philosophy and art history, Critical Concepts in Art History allowed me to bring ideas from my philosophy studies into my art history seminar. The project encouraged me to engage in the type of creative interdisciplinary thinking that I hope to pursue at a graduate level. In addition, my work on the web team has helped me to market myself as a better job candidate, with solid digital publication experience.


StephXiaochuang (Stephanie) Wang
Copy Editor
Author: Marxism, Kitsch, Relational Aesthetics
Nanjing, China

As a double major in economics and art history, this project provided me with an opportunity to explore art history from a social and economical perspective. My three concepts were theoretically connected, and working on them helped me to become a better writer. I was able to use the critical thinking skills I’ve acquired as an art history major, while incorporating knowledge I learned from my studies in economics.


DeanDeannana White
Web Team
Author: Psychoanalysis, Kunstwollen, Archaeology
New York, New York

I hope this publication helps to make critical concepts in art history more accessible to fellow students.  As an art history major, I concentrated on African, Modern, and Contemporary art in my studies at Wheaton College and the University Sussex. Working on this project helped me to focus more intensely on the fundamentals of the discipline.


ErinErin Wolf
Web Team
Author: Modernism, Functionalism, Typology
Miami, Florida

My concentration within the art history department at Wheaton was in modern American architecture. As an art history major whose interests are focused on bridging the gap between technology and the humanities, my involvement with the web team for Critical Concepts in Art History helped to foster my tech-minded creative spirit. I hope that this site will inspire other students, from Wheaton and beyond, to explore their passion for art history from innovative perspectives.